Man in arson trial
AMAN is standing trial accused of using ‘red diesel’ to commit arson at a car repair business.
Matthew Clegg’s DNA was found on a plastic fuel container believed to gave been used to start the blaze at the Great Harwood firm and his mobile phone signal was located in the area at around the time of the incident, Burnley Crown Court heard.
Mr Clegg denies the charge of committing arson at John Allen’s car repair business at Unit 5, Deveron Mill, on Meadow Street.
Prosecutor Robert Smith told the jury that the business was targeted by two males at around 11pm on February 1 last year and caused £2,000 worth of damage.
The jury was told that on the evening of February 1 a man working in a nearby unit saw two males on a CCTV monitor walking towards Unit 5, with one of the men ‘looking through the letter box’. Mr Smith said the ‘features of both individuals can’t be made out’ on the CCTV.
The jury heard that the males were spotted returning to the scene a short time later and the man could ‘smell burning’. Mr Allen was called and when he arrived at his business he saw the building was on fire and he noticed a plastic fuel container next to the door of the unit ‘which had not been there when he left’, prosecutors said.
Mr Smith said there was a ‘strong smell of diesel’ and that the plastic container still held 150ml of ‘red diesel’ inside. The jury was told that a DNA swab taken from the container matched Mr Clegg and he was arrested at Tommy Smith Commercials, where he worked, on Meadow Street on February 29.
In a pre-prepared statement he denied attending the mill or committing the arson. Mr Smith told the jury: “He said he only worked around the corner from the premises concerned and had access to a number of petrol canisters and that the petrol canister must have been taken from the yard nearby.”
The jury was told that Mr Clegg’s mobile phone was seized and showed that he was in Great Harwood at 10.51pm – shortly before the fire started. At 11.08pm, when the emergency services were called, he had moved away and his signal was located in Wilpshire the hearing was told. Clegg told police his phone would be cell-sited there because he lived in the area.